British Columbia

Greater Victoria amalgamation study not on the cards yet, says minister

"I want to make sure the mayors are clear that the government is not going to be moving in and making decisions for them," Minister Peter Fassbender said.

Seven of the 13 Capital Regional District municipalities said they want a study looking into amalgamation

Peter Fassbender, minister of community, sport and cultural development, said Capital Regional District municipalities should decide how to move forward on the issue of amalgamation, and whether or not a study should be commissioned. (CBC)

It's up to local governments in the Greater Victoria region to decide how they want to move forward on the possibility of amalgamation, says the minister of community, sport and cultural development.

In the municipal elections held last November, eight of the 13 Capital Regional District municipalities had a question on their ballot asking voters if they wanted the provincial government to study amalgamation or some other form of greater cooperation and service-sharing. 

In all those municipalities, except for Oak Bay, voters were in favour of the study.

Minister: Local governments must decide

Minister Peter Fassbender told On the Island host Gregor Craigie the province will not commission a study to explore amalgamation, but will meet and discuss with local mayors to decide how to proceed.

"It's inappropriate for the provincial government to move in and say, 'We're going to do this study, we'll let you know what the results of it are,'" he said.

"We're here to to help facilitate the mayors and the region and the local governments looking at what the next step would be, and indeed a study — or a consolidation of some of the information that might be out there already — is one of the options that we will be discussing."

Fassbender said amalgamation is just one option for the municipalities.

"A lot of the issues the public are looking at may not be ultimately amalgamation, they may be issues of integration of services," he said.

"I want to sit down with the mayors and talk about the terms of reference of what that could be and get some sense of consensus."

Study previously promised

Coralee Oakes, who was minister of community, sport and cultural development before Fassbender was moved into the portfolio in July, told CBC News in November 2014 the province would do a study.

"We made the commitment that if the citizens say, 'Hey, we really want to look at this,' we'll certainly make resources available," Oakes said, shortly after the 2014 municipal elections.

"We're going to be doing a governance study. It's hard work … it's going to be very, very difficult, but we're committed to doing that."

Fassbender was mayor of Langley City from 2005 to 2014, during which time he opposed its amalgamation with Langley Township, and also rejected calls for a study into amalgamation, despite lobbying from a grassroots group of residents.

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Minister Peter Fassbender says province won't force Greater Victoria amalgamation


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